Friday, May 06, 2011

North-Northeast of Heaven

Late in April, I met a newish friend for tea at Borderlands Café, at 870 Valencia, between 19th and 20th. As we were leaving after a most congenial chat, she pointed out the sign painted on the front: “No wi-fi.” That’s why it was such a great place: no laptop zombies! Laptop users are perfectly quiet; that isn’t the problem. However, the fact that their attention is not in the same location as their bodies imparts a strange, kind of dead feeling to places where they gather in numbers. Besides serving tea and food, Borderlands Café sells periodicals, which you’re welcome to read without buying.

As I was leaving my building to go to the café, I saw Tom and his girlfriend. I told D. that I had given Tom my permission to marry her, due to her nice gift to me of a bread pan, and she looked pleased.

The next day, my mother was going in for a little spot of medical attention (well, actually, surgery for cancer; I’ll get to that), so I said, just in case, “You’re a wonderful mother, I forgive you for everything, and I love you very much.”

She said, “Can you rephrase that?”

“Rephrase it how?”

“So it’s more flattering to me.”

“Ah! Certainly! If you had ever fallen short in any way, which of course is not the case, rest assured that I would have forgiven you.”

Traffic was quite snarled as I made my way to work that day, due to President Obama being in town. A police officer told me Obama was at his hotel at 3rd and Mission and scheduled to come out at any moment, so I stopped and waited across the street with a gaggle of medical marijuana protestors.

In the end, the commander in chief outwitted us—I guess it’s good that he’s smarter than us—and passed by in a limo, preceded and followed by security, but someone with sharp eyes saw him waving at us through the tinted glass, and he was less than a quarter of a block away, so I was pretty excited.

When I went into work, I called my father and said, “Guess who just passed by.” He guessed that it had been Moammar Gadhafi.

I have an ex-boss who lives in that hotel (it’s a hotel at the bottom, condos for the extremely well-to-do at the top) and he said other celebrities who have stayed there include Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga.

I’m continuing to thoroughly enjoy my Internet radio, which has even produced a brief but thrilling correspondence with a Czech musician known as Blackosh. His band is called Cales, and the song I’m in love with is called “Along Paths of Return (Pagan Nostalgia).”

I was researching the matter at the Metal Observer website, where they had a link to the band’s website, with contact info, so I sent a note saying how gorgeous this song is and got a note back the next day from Blackosh! (He’s a little bit gorgeous himself.) He said it’s a one-man studio project at this point, and that the band never traveled to the States. Our loss.

I’m also really enjoying “Altars in Gore,” by Coffins (from Japan) and “Fight Song” by Methods of Mayhem, whose music is all over the map, and my new favorite band in general is Grand Magus, from Stockholm. Listen to “Hammer of the North.” What a great song that is; the whole album is great.

Finally, I have belatedly become a Slayer fan. Of course you know that the Big Four of American metal are Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. I have long been a fan of the first two (and have seen both in concert). Somehow or other, my path and Anthrax’s have never crossed. As for Slayer, someone told me once upon a time that Reign in Blood was their best CD. I got it, didn’t like it, and dispensed with Slayer for good, as far as I was concerned. It’s speed metal, whereas I like stuff that’s more ponderous in tempo.

But lately I bumped into their CD South of Heaven and really like it, particularly “Mandatory Suicide,” and then I found other Slayer songs I like from other albums, and here I am, reborn as a Slayer fan at nearly 49. I listened to Alice in Chains last night, and it sounded kind of denatured in comparison.
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